Slumming it - the theme park that will recreate sheer poverty

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The Independent US

It will be the world's newest slum, built to order, and it will be based on some of the planet's worst in Africa, Asia and Central America.

But the model shanty town, sprawling over 6.5 acres (2.6ha), is not being built to accommodate the poorest of the poor; it is intended to educate the richest of the rich.

The latest US theme park, opening in Georgia this week, will give many Americans an unprecedented insight into how "the other half" lives.

The park has been created by Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit group that builds low-cost housing, at its headquarters in Americus. Millard Fuller, its founder, expects the Global Village and Discovery Centre to attract up to 70,000 tourists in its first year.

Devoid of the rides and rollercoasters of the typical American theme park, children will get their thrills in the Global Village by making bricks and tiles in mock squalor, and discovering - albeit briefly - what it would be like to live in a scorpion-infested shack.

"Essentially, it's a theme park for poverty housing," said Mr Fuller. "You'll come out of the centre and walk right into a slum. You'll see the kind of pitiful living conditions so many people in the world have."

Visitors will also see examples of the homes Habitat has built for poor nations. "We think we'll recruit a lot of volunteers this way," Mr Fuller said.